Friday, 31 January 2014

Tools to conquer self doubt

If you've put a book out there for the world to read and critique, you've experienced that sick feeling and sinking despair when someone tells you they didn't like it, but you've also experienced the complete and utter elation when someone tells you it was marvelous, moved them and made them think about things in a different light.

Working front line in customer service has taught me to take negativity on the chin, yet all the praise in the world doesn't stop the nagging doubt and upset from that one rude customer eating away at you. It's taken me a long time to realise this, but this high and low yo-yo is a part of life and the fact that the lows can still weave themselves inward to hurt and wound means there's still some work to be done in conquering my self doubt.

Make no mistake, everyone has their demons, but some people are just better at hiding their problems than others. So the lesson here is don't be self conscious about your own short comings and perceived failings within your writing life because everybody has something going on in their life that they feel helpless about.

In the context of your writing life, just be a writer. Just be someone who writes. Don't step up to the title of author until you feel strong enough to take the good with the ugly. Write for enjoyment. Write for fun. Write because you love words and characters and plots. Don't set yourself up for a fall by claiming prematurely that you're the next big romance novelist.

When people get your writing, bottle that feeling and remind yourself when negativity strikes.

Even if you're working on a manuscript, have other avenues in your writing like a blog. I blog two to three times a week and spend a great deal of time promoting my non fiction work online. Getting daily praise from these little pieces is a massive confidence boost that carries me and makes working on the bigger projects more fun. It stops the worrying that I can't do this and I'm not good enough to do this.

Following on with the prolific idea of having many writing projects in different genres and avenues, this is a very good way to take your mind off the obsession with only one manuscript. I like to think of it as splitting up my fear - because if you're really as good at writing as you think you are, you will excel with different pieces of work and the praise will be forthcoming.